This year, Apple has updated all four of its mainstream iPhone models without changing much about their design, sizes, and how they stack up against each other. The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max have top-end camera features and build quality, but their high prices will keep them out of reach for a lot of people. Many buyers looking for something new will focus on the two more mainstream options, the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini. These should be good enough for most people, but they will have to prove that they're better than their predecessors, which remain on sale, as well as plenty of far less expensive Android phones with competitive features and specifications.
Apple has launched these phones at the same starting prices as their predecessors in India, which in itself is good news. What's even better is that you get twice the amount of storage at each tier. 128GB is now the base amount, and the iPhone 13 mini starts at Rs. 69,900. That goes up to Rs. 79,900 for 256GB and Rs. Rs. 99,900 for the new 512GB option. The iPhone 13 128GB costs Rs. 79,900, while the 256GB option is priced at Rs. 89,900 and the 512GB option will cost Rs. 109,900.
The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini are nearly identical in terms of design and specifications. They have different screen sizes and battery capacities, and just like last year, the iPhone 12 mini has slightly slower wireless charging, most likely due to thermal constraints in its tiny body. Beyond that, they deliver the same capabilities, so your choice between them comes down to budget and personal preference.
For people upgrading from an older smartphone or just prefer something as light and unobtrusive as possible, the iPhone 13 mini continues to serve as a familiar path forward. A lot of people don't like the fact that mainstream phones are now all quite big. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem as though that's going to be enough to sustain this form factor beyond the current generation – persistent rumours suggest that this might be the last iPhone of its kind.
There are a few new colours with this generation as well. Black and White have been replaced by Midnight and Starlight, which are less stark and more neutral. There are still Blue and (Product) Red options, but they aren't the same shades as before. Pink is a brand new option, and it's surprisingly faint – almost white, with just a slightly warm blush tone. Hopefully we'll see some more variety mid-cycle, if Apple repeats what it did with a surprise additional colour option for the iPhone 12 series earlier this year.
You'll immediately notice the new diagonal camera arrangement on the back. This is an odd design choice for Apple, a company that usually goes overboard trying to make everything as slick and minimalist as possible. The rings around the cameras are also shinier than on last year's models. Another big change is a narrower notch. Apple boasts that it's 20 percent smaller, but it's also deeper than before, so this might not actually improve anything.
The iPhone 13 (below) and iPhone 13 mini (above) are instantly recognisable thanks to the new diagonal camera arrangement
Apple has reserved its 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate feature for the Pro iPhone models. If you use them side by side, the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini don't feel quite as smooth as the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. This isn't a huge deal, but it would be nice to have, especially considering that many Android phones priced well under Rs. 20,000 do have at least 90Hz screens these days. That aside, the displays on both models do look very crisp and colours are bright. They support HDR playback and True Tone automatic colour temperature adjustment.
All the new iPhones have IP68 ratings for dust and water resistance, and all use Apple's Ceramic Shield material for their displays, which should hopefully mean that they can withstand scratches and impact. The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini have matte aluminium bands running around all sides. Both these phones are slightly heavier than their predecessors, but are still comfortable enough for one-handed use.
The new notch is less wide but also deeper, so it might still be distracting
Apple's A15 Bionic SoC is common across the entire iPhone 13 line, but the two non-Pro models have slightly weaker integrated GPUs, with only four cores rather than five. You still get six CPU cores (two high-power, two efficient) and 16 Neural Engine cores. Apple doesn't disclose amounts of RAM or battery capacities but does say that battery life is up to two and a half hours better than the previous generation.
You do get the same headlining new camera features as with the Pro models – Cinematic Mode, which automatically adjusts focus between subjects in a frame, and Photographic Styles, which lets you customise the tone and character of photos you take before they are rendered. What's also worth noting is that sensor-shift stabilisation, previously exclusive to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, is not standard across all four models. However, you don't get the Pros' 3X telephoto cameras, or the ability to take macro stills and videos. The wide and ultra-wide cameras are also not the same as those on the Pro models, and have slightly weaker specifications.
It will be interesting to see whether the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini offer enough to set them apart from the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini, respectively, which remain on sale at lower prices and benefit from the new iOS 15 release. That's what we'll aim to decide in our full review, which is coming up very soon.
This week on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, we discuss iPhone 13, new iPad and iPad mini, and Apple Watch Series 7 — and what they mean to the Indian market. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts. Affiliate links may be automatically generated - see our ethics statement for details.